Read Your Way to Better Health
I’ve heard it said that the one thing all smart, successful people have in common is that they read a lot. I must have some super smart, ultra-successful patients, because a lot of them ask if I know of any books about acupuncture.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are totally fascinating, and some people (maybe you?!) like to learn about the medicine that’s been helping them feel better. And I don’t blame them. The theory that acupuncture is based on can totally change the way you see your body and mind.
Once you’ve had your fill of Chinese medicine stuff, you may want to expand your mind on a few more topics. That’s why I’ve also included a whole list of books about physical health in general, from a more Western, scientific point of view. And finally, there’s a whole section for your mind, with a few mindfulness books.
If you make your way to the end of this reading list, I guarantee you’ll see your body and mind in a whole new light and start making some positive changes in your life.
Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine Books
The seminal book on Chinese Medicine in English. Kaptchuk studied medicine in China back in the 70’s and has been practicing and researching ever since. His book breaks down Chinese medicine theory in a way that’s easy to understand for the layman. It is required reading for anyone who is about to enter acupuncture school.
Another classic book on Chinese medicine, this one goes into more detail on the 5 elements, as well as discussing different personality types based on them. This can really help you to see why you act the way you do (and understand why some of your loved ones might act differently).
An easy yet elegant book with practical advice on how to use the principals of Chinese medicine in your everyday life. She includes recipes, qi gong exercises and more. Written by an alumni from my acupuncture school!
A newer book with a twist. Keown has training in both Western and Eastern medicine and uses his expertise to show how Chinese medicine theory can help to explain some of the mysteries that Western medicine hasn’t figured out yet. He also does a great job of showing how the 2 systems look at the same thing (the human body) through 2 different lenses.
General Health and Wellness Books
Food writer Michael Pollan clears away a lot of confusion about what to eat and what not to eat in this easy to read book. He’s the one who coined the phrase, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. This is a good read for those of you who are looking for common sense recommendations on diet and nutrition, and getting confused by all the contradictory information out there.
The definitive book on the stress response. Sapolsky makes his way through multiple body systems (cardiovascular, immune, reproductive, etc.) to discuss how stress affects the functioning of each. The second half of the book contains advice on how to counter these effects. A must read for anyone who is stressed.
“Move more” is bio-mechanist Katy Bowman’s mantra throughout this book. She makes a big distinction between exercise and movement, and explains why sitting all day and just exercising for an hour isn’t enough. Very readable, and includes lots of exercises and action steps to correct body mechanics and get you out of pain.
This book was my first introduction into the fascinating world of herbal medicine. Vermont based herbalist Rosemary Gladstar makes it easy to start using plants to enhance our health. The perfect book to dip your toes into being a home herbalist.
More than just fertility, this book dives deep into women’s health. A must read for anyone with female anatomy and those that love them. Weschler goes into fertility charting in a big way, which is helpful not just for fertility, but also the avoidance of pregnancy as well as overall health. As women, the health of our cycle is an indicator for the rest of our body.
The quintessential mindfulness book by the godfather of the genre. Peace is Every Step is a small, simple, but profound book that reminds all of us that contentment can be found everywhere, if we just know how to look for it.
Another classic. Eckhart Tolle was depressed, homeless and sleeping on a park bench when he had a profound awakening. The lessons that he learned are contained in this book. He gives us some convincing reasons to let go of the past, forget the future and just “Be Here Now”.
What a great name – Radical Acceptance! Brach weaves personal stories, and those of her meditation students, into this beautifully written book. It is a reminder lean into all of life’s experiences because the quickest way to get over a negative experience is to walk right through to the other side.
Michael Singer, of The Untethered Soul fame, wrote this book as a follow up. It is much more personal and tells his life story, the way he went from awkward teenage kid to wise author. I found this book easier to read than his former book, and the lessons stick better. An inspiring reminder to breathe through anything that life throws at you.
Do you have any favorite books to add? Let us know in the comments. I’m always looking for a new book to read!
Elizabeth Willams, LAc is an acupuncturist and herbalist in Greenville, South Carolina, specializing in pain management, women’s health, and psycho-emotional issues. She’s passionate about helping people feel their best and sharing her wealth of knowledge with the community. Elizabeth is the owner of Dragonfly Acupuncture & Massage on Wade Hampton Boulevard. Appointments can be made by calling 864-451-4313 or scheduled online.